On Tuesday 11th February 2014, four students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), accompanied by course lecturer David Massey, visited HM Treasury on a programme organised by the OTS. The purpose of the visit was to reward these students – Dominic, Calum, Usamah and Henna – for their hard work on a project undertaken in November last year.
The project involved a class of third year undergraduate accountancy students working in groups to prepare a poster presentation about an issue relevant to the OTS’s employee benefits and expenses review. Dominic and Callum worked together to prepare a poster presentation about calculating the value of living accommodation, using examples to point out current problems, such as the difficulty in finding out the Gross Rateable Value. Usamah and Henna worked together to prepare a poster presentation about reliefs for uniform and travel expenses, drawing on their personal experiences of working part-time in care homes.
During the visit, the students met David Gauke MP, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, and John Whiting, Tax Director of the OTS. This included an opportunity for the students to ask both David and John questions about UK taxation, and for both David and John to ask the students for their thoughts. The Minister presented the students with prizes which acknowledged the quality of their projects. Additionally, throughout the day the students spoke with civil servants working at the OTS and the Treasury’s personal tax team.
We hope the visit provided a useful insight into tax policy making, and wish the students all the best for their upcoming exams and future careers.
Last week John Whiting, Jeremy Sherwood and Jay Patel from the OTS visited the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN). There were two main reasons for our visit. We wanted to talk to UCLAN’s accountancy students about the Employee Benefits and Expenses review, and look at some of the research they have done in this area. Secondly, we conducted a workshop with local accountants, payroll professionals, and academics that work either at the university or in Preston.
We arrived early on Thursday morning. The visit began with a presentation to over fifty students. This included discussing some of the main recommendations, and areas to explore further. For instance, the question ‘What should actually be classed as a benefit?’ Or what would be the impact of payrolling of benefits? Or how relevant are Flat Rate Expenses in 2013?
Students had previously been made aware of our interim report and had prepared poster presentations to share with the OTS as part of their course. This led to the presentation transforming into a lively discussion. For instance, students pointed out that payrolling would have implications for student loan repayments – if this leads to benefits being treated as earnings. Some argued that many employees didn’t claim Flat Rate Expenses (FREs) because they were not aware the relief existed (and HMRC’s guidance was not easy to find). Others drew on their own experience of working part time in the care sector – for which they incurred costs such as washing uniform or late night taxies. After the discussion, students took the lead by talking through their impressive poster presentations. Some had focused on comparing the UK system with other countries. Others had focused on analysing specific aspects of the system (such as FREs).
In the afternoon, the aforementioned workshop was held. Views largely echoed what had been said during other OTS stakeholder workshops. For instance, the need to clarify the rules pertaining to travel.
Thanks to David Massey from UCLAN for organising the visit – the trip provided valuable insight for our review. Do you have anything to say about the OTS Employee Benefits and Expenses Review? Please feel free to comment below, or to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.